You’ll never guess what I’ve done

Alicia sitting on an Airwheel S8 (a bicycle seat on a platform with gyroscope stabilization)


Start with the obvious: what the heck is that?

Her name is Maggie because she is made from a magnesium alloy.

Conceptually, think of  a ‘seated Segway-type device’, and imagine me zooming around the Davis greenway this afternoon, just to get out of the house.

In addition, I have Trixie, my adult trike:

img 0797

with her basket:

img 0798

for days when I have energy for exercise (and don’t even want to think about plugging her into an outlet).

And lastly, I have my trusted Sylvia (Who is Sylvia?), my Invacare walker (no pic).

These are the devices that I use to get around our new home (University Retirement Community at Davis, California).

Maggie requires the least energy from me.

Here’s the picture of one of her siblings (from an ad):

Airwheel S8

I bought her on Ebay for around $500. There are more, but I have the feeling they may be produced at the factory in batches. I got the two-year Ebay Fair Trade Warranty, which I hope never to have to use, and joined the Electric Unicycle Forum, so I have a place to ask questions (Maggie is in one of the subcategories). These devices are powered by electric motors, and gyroscope stabilized.

How did you find Maggie?

Starting over three years ago, I googled ‘seated Segway.’ Segway doesn’t make one, but I can’t stand for very long, and need the seat.

Also, I have very little energy, and I try to use it for my writing (you all remember my writing, right?).

I watched videos on Youtube, with my favorite being this. It is short (23 seconds) and so cool. I wanted to be her.

Then I checked Ebay, and found several vendors offering the Airwheel S8.

The rest has simply been convincing myself that I could do this. That it wasn’t the craziest thing someone my age (late 60s when I started looking) could even consider. That I should try it quietly riding around the corridors late at night (the corridors even have hand-rails – I haven’t needed one once).


But I knew I needed something like this because this community of around 350 people are mostly in four floors of a single building, and the halls are very long to get to places.

I can’t do so many things because I don’t have the energy to get to the rooms where they happen. Even going down to dinner was painful and energy-sucking; I did a lot of it scooting backward while sitting on the walker’s seat, looking over my shoulder.

I want to remain INDEPENDENT as long as I possibly can. I don’t have the energy to push myself in a manual wheelchair.

And I am simply not psychologically ready for a powered wheelchair or scooter (besides which, they occupy a lot of space, both in halls and when parked).

But what if you fall on your face? Won’t you look foolish?


The thing that surprised me the most was how easy it was.

Charge Maggie up (3 hours max). Push the red button on the base. Push the red button on the remote – and she comes to life; beep! Sit on the saddle; beep! Put one foot on the base, dare lift the other foot onto the other side of the base.

Ride into the living room and startle the husband. Go out and try it in the hallways. Done. Go home and wonder if maybe watching the Youtube videos taught me subliminally – or it really is just that easy. Ayup.

Show people in small quantities.

Within a week all pretense is over, and I’m showing off every chance I get – haven’t been this cool and the center of attention in decades.

Do you have to balance?

Not much. It’s as if you were sitting on a bicycle seat on a post on the ground. Maggie does the stabilizing by reading your slight tilt, and feeding power to the wheels to follow your commands: slight lean forward or backward to go (move toward neutral position to stop), press on the seat with your inner thigh to twirl.

I am far more stable on Maggie than on my own two feet. Irritating, but I have no choice – the nerves to the muscles on the back of my legs are damaged, and only transmit a small amount of my instructions. On Maggie I can literally just sit there, not moving at all.

Going for a ride

The hardest movement (gulp) was the first time I was faced with a downward slope. A tiny downward slope. I held onto Maggie and walked down it. The next bit was an upward slope, so I tried that sitting – rock solid moving slowly up the slope. The next downward one (gulp) I just rode down, just as stably. Huh. Within ten minutes I was doing the slope up and down to the underground garage.

Since then, curb cuts. The bumpy things they put there for blind people to sense (way too bumpy, if you ask me – poor blind people!). Driveways. Speed bumps!

The biggest danger is cracks in the sidewalks and between cement sections of sidewalks and streets – anything uneven. Maggie scoots over them while I hold my breath the first time. The asphalt paths around here have deep fissures, so I do have to watch where I’m going.

Inside, I come to almost a complete stop at corridor intersections – don’t want to knock any of my fellow residents down.

Enough for now

Many more things have been occupying my time, and I’ll post about some of them (sorry it’s been so very long since I blogged).

Adjusting to the LDN (low-dose naltrexone) has been tricky. Adjusting to the social life has been time-consuming.

But I’m finally writing consistently again (my beta reader thinks I haven’t lost my touch), have some control over where the energy is spent (we’ve used the pools a lot in the hot weather), and, as the dining room manager said tonight, “You seem much happier since you got Maggie.”

Happiness it is. I had a crazy idea to save my energy – AND IT WORKS!

Now all I have to do is reconstitute some of my singing options from New Jersey, here at URC, and I’m set in a good place.

Husband admitted tonight that he’s proud of me – and seems to enjoy explaining Maggie to the masses.

Stay tuned. Questions welcome – I’m turning into such a ham: I stop, demonstrate, and talk about Maggie anytime someone smiles!

Pride’s Children NETHERWORLD is proceeding. Prepare by reading PURGATORY – I haven’t had ten seconds for marketing, and the readers have been commensurately few. If you like it, please recommend me to your friends.

And I’m working on getting the Prequel short story TOO LATE published.



28 thoughts on “You’ll never guess what I’ve done

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      So sorry to hear about your sister. It isn’t a pleasant thing to live with.

      But I can say, after more than a month of riding Maggie everywhere, that she has saved me a huge amount of energy in this sprawling complex. I’m about to head out to go get a flu shot on her, and that is the kind of thing I used to need an Uber or Lyft for just last year. It’s not that far, but getting there under my own power wasn’t a good idea.


  1. Jeanne

    I love it! Congratulations on finding another “life hack”!
    Can I ask how tall you are? Because the only thing that’s stopping me from getting more excited is the feeling that it would be too small for a person my size.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’ve shrunk an inch or two from my 5’10” original height as my discs have compressed; I’m sitting, so it’s less important. The weight limit is more critical for me.

      It’s 120K in the photo, 100 in the booklet that came with it (! – previous model, possibly?), and I asked the vendor – she said she inquired and they said they test to 150K.

      Since I have pushed my walker in front of me as a carrying vehicle, loaded with my guitar and heavy bag of music books, I know it’s not underpowered. It probably lasts longer (and I know it can go up a steeper slope) if you’re a skinny Chinese kid.

      I’m just happy not to have to worry.

      ‘Life hack.’ Good way of putting it. It’s made SUCH a difference since I got it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynda Dietz

    Oh my goodness! That looks amazing. I’m impressed and pretty proud of you for taking a leap that has proven to be so profitable for your health. And it sounds as if you have been emotionally rejuvenated by the freedom Maggie gives you. There’s never a good reason to just stop trying when there are still options out there, and this is the perfect example of it.

    Enjoy the extra time you’re gaining each day by conserving your strength and energy.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’m enjoying the feeling of having reversed a declining trend. And reinforcing that making the move was both necessary, and one of our best decisions in a long time. NJ was getting VERY isolating for us, and especially for me.


  3. M T McGuire

    I am absolutely seething with jealousy! mwahahahahargh!

    Sadly just about the one country in the entire world where all these things are illegal is Britain, something to do with vehicles that move under their own steam only being allowed on roads if they are ‘roadworthy’ and therefore taxable, which means only bicycles, mobility scooters and normal traffic passes. Even electric bikes are in a bit of a grey area but no-one takes any notice of it. It’s so irritating as I could really do with something similar. Love it!

    Go you!




        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I moved – to have more time to write, to not have a house, to not have to deal with weather, and social isolation.

          But there is almost TOO much social life here – and I was getting overwhelmed at the amount of energy it takes. Plus everything is very far when you’re in a single building, so I was getting physically exhausted.

          I knew it when we came. I was planning SOMETHING. I knew what I wanted – but wasn’t sure how it would go down, but primarily whether I would even be able to do it.

          So it has been a huge happiness boost to have it all come together, and it saves me so much energy I do things I haven’t been able to do comfortably since we got here.

          It’s exactly what I was hoping for, a renaissance before the inevitable final decline. I went swimming in the outdoor pool before dinner, then we had dinner, and now I’m going to take Sylvia (my walker) and Maggie to the piano lounge (a longish distance) with my guitar and my songbooks, and see if that’s going to be a feasible thing to do. After that, I’ll try to start a group for us folksingers, since I left mine in NJ.


        2. acflory

          Hey, that inevitable decline is still a long, loooong way off, and I believe you have at least two more books to write so don’t enjoy yourself too much. 😀


        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Everything I do is to make it possible to write. Don’t worry – that is, except for family, the top of my list. That’s why I hate wasting time – because it could have been used for another scene.


        4. acflory

          Family’s at the top of my list as well. Then bills, then writing. Luckily I still have the energy to do a bit of teaching to supplement the pension.

          I plan on becoming a best selling author by the time the energy runs out….-cough-


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